Organisation: Pembrokeshire Youth Service
Provision: Youth Homelessness Team
Contacts: David Walker/Nick Hudd
The need to establish the team was identified initially through education, training & employment engagement routes. Young people accessing our support in this area identified housing and homelessness issues as clear obstacles to them entering ETE. We therefore profiled our community from this perspective. This helped identify where deficits existed locally in terms of information, support and guidance. Informed by this process, working with young people and partners from other sectors such as Housing and Social Care, we were able to shape a service based on our own skills and resources and capacity to meet the identified needs.
As a result; Pembrokeshire Youth Homelessness Team facilitate an integrated Youth Homelessness education, prevention and support service; raising awareness of homelessness issues and contributing factors; providing young people opportunities to develop the skills required to live independently; offering floating support & supported accommodation in order to aid those making such a transition.
Many factors act as barriers for young people making a successful transition to living independently. For example, those who are; care experienced; from the LGBTQ+ community; refugees or seeking asylum; have disengaged from education, are more likely to experience challenges that can contribute to homelessness.
Those young people who have lived experiences of such matters or with the most recent, up to date knowledge of navigating their way through such a transition, have valuable perspective, knowledge and experiences that help us to identify specific needs, plan appropriate support and evaluate our approach.
To enable this we adopt core youth work principles. We regular consult with those who have such experience, maintaining an open dialogue and demonstrating how such input influences other processes. We Involve young people in the design of learning materials and resources, to ensure they are relevant and understandable. We provide opportunities and platforms to amplify their voice, building their skills and confidence to be able to converse with representatives from other sectors. We also give participants an opportunity to plan, co-facilitate face-to-face sessions and evaluate these provisions.
Participative – young people share responsibility for decision-making, learning opportunities, resource and skills development.
Educative – young people gain the skills, knowledge and understanding associated with living independently through engagement in non-formal workshops, in schools and other youth work provisions, via a digital platform and via vicarious learning, where young people share their experiences via group work sessions.
Young people are also afforded opportunities to learn new skills in terms when producing learning materials, videos and developing new digital platforms, through non-formal workshops.
Expressive – ensuring young people’s opinions, ideas, emotions and aspirations not only shape activities and resources but are also shared with others.
Empowering – Involvement in all aspects affords participants an opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge, which enable some to assume a leadership role, in terms of these initiatives, but also addressing other issues.
Inclusive - The approach enables participants to develop knowledge, understanding and positive attitudes and behaviour in relation to; race, cultural identity and diversity; different languages, society, citizenship and respect for other people and their choices.
The contributing factors to youth homelessness are wide ranging and young people need to access support and skills development at a time that suits them. We therefore had to explore a range of methods to offer education, upskilling opportunities and support. Accessing these whilst making such a huge transition and trying to maintain/service other commitments such as work or college can be a challenge. We quickly learned that other platforms that complemented our face-to-face work had to be considered.
As a result, we have worked with young people to develop a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This gives access to a range of these services and support and a time that suits the individual in a format that they can relate to (as content is designed by, for and with young people who have lived experience of such issues).
- 168 professionals to date have completed our Youth Homelessness Awareness training. Creating a commonality of understanding of the local context and enhancing future prospects for collaborative working (Whilst providing young people a voice that informs other professional practitioners).
- Over 500 secondary school pupils have received homelessness awareness raising sessions; educating young people about the contributing factors that can potentially lead to homelessness and the routes of support that can help avert it.
- 11 starter packs have been distributed to young people leaving temporary accommodation, helping them transition into independent living and reduce poverty related risks of tenancy breakdown.
- 184 items of furniture have been distributed to 25 young people as part of our ‘Moving Forward’ project reducing the poverty related risks of tenancy breakdown.
- 86 distinct users have registered with the VLE completing 108 modules and 1808 activities designed to provide them with the skills required to maintain tenancies and successfully live independently.
- 6 young people (currently 100% occupancy) have been supported in Supported Accommodation.
- 34 young people have received floating support.
As a result of the establishment of this team and the approach it adopts;
- More collaborative processes across multi-agencies have been developed which offer support to young people and recognise the brokerage role the youth service can play.
- Young people now have a number of platforms/mediums which can be used to amplify their voice as well as inform and influence decision makers in regard to the associated issues that affect them.
- Practitioners from across other professions are have developed a better understanding of youth homelessness. Through our awareness training. This has created a commonality of understanding of the local context and enhanced future prospects for collaborative working.
- Young people will lived experiences of the related matters now have a number of avenues available to use their experiences to inform others (making the approach more sustainable and relevant).
- Involving young people as equal stakeholders and investing in upskilling them means that a peer network of support complements existing facilities.
As mentioned previously; there are many factors that can potentially act as barriers for young people making a successful transition to living independently. For example, those who are; care experienced; from the LGBTQ+ community; refugees or seeking asylum; have disengaged from education. This approach enables participants to develop knowledge, understanding and positive attitudes and behaviour in relation to; race, cultural identity and diversity; different languages, society, citizenship and respect for other people and the choices they make.
The project continues to be delivered and goes from strength to strength. By embedding the youth work approach, detailed above, the project:
- Is adapted to meet the changing needs of young people and remains relevant.
- Sustainable, because the involvement of young people and their role in all aspects of the associated processes means the workload is shared between all stakeholders.
- Addresses local deficits that are identified by the resulting collaborative approach.
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